The Regional Plan Association has released a report suggesting that two of New York’s major airports, JFK and Newark, will need major reconfiguration totaling billions of dollars if the city is to keep up with passenger demand The New York Times reports.
The study, titled “Upgrading to World Class: The Future of the Regions Airports” calls for “immediate planning for the eventual expansion and/or reconfiguration of John F. Kennedy International and Newark Liberty International.”
The largest logistical problem facing all three of New York’s major airports, which are run by The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, is reconciling rapidly increasing air traffic combined with limited gate space on the ground.
The report notes that New York’s three airports handled a total of 104 million passengers in 2010 making it the second largest airport network in terms of passengers in the world after London.
But in less than 20 years, that number is expected to rise to 150 million passengers per year but only if there is room to accommodate the additional capacity the report notes.
The Regional Plan Association looked at several options including expansion of existing airports, mitigation of passenger traffic to smaller airports nearby, or building a brand new airport altogether.
But ultimately, due to cost and land restrictions, the report suggested that the best
option is to expand and reconfigure the runways at JFK and the runways and terminal buildings at Newark. Such expansion is the most cost-effective way the area will be able to keep up with predicted demand according to the report.
The New York Times points out that flights into New York, which are capped by
the Federal Aviation Administration, should open up with the implementation of NextGen, the FAA’s attempt to completely modernize air traffic in the United States. Once NextGen is complete, airplanes will be able to fly closer to each other, allowing more planes in less airspace at a given time. To accommodate however, the airports will need to be able to handle the additional flights which can only be accomplished via expansion since New York’s airports are already operating near capacity as is.
To put New York’s congestion into perspective, the region currently has a capacity for 236 flights per hour which is equivalent to a flight almost every 15 seconds. The report suggests that capacity will need to be increased to 314 an hour, or every 11.5 seconds, in order to keep up with demand.
NextGen should help accomplish this but today’s report makes it clear that the Port Authority and policymakers in New York and New Jersey must act very soon or face losing out on millions of travelers, tourists, and business people hoping to fly in and out of the city.